Cannondale Factory Racing rider Jeremiah Bishop has raced,
and won, in nearly every mountain bike racing format imaginable. This season,
however, the versatile Bishop has set a singular goal: representing the United
States at the Olympic Games in London.
Bishop was gracious enough to catch up with MTBRacnews.com
over the phone to share his thoughts on the Olympic chase, his Gran Fondo, and
why he canít get enough of epic backcountry races. Excerpts of the conversation
were you up to this off-season?
Jeremiah Bishop: Itís been interesting. This year I knew it was going to be a big season, so I
took a big break in December. I had a great race before that at the Iceman
Cometh, where I got second, and I had a feeling like I was putting things away
in good shape. After some off-season time spent going on long mountain bike
rides, doing some cyclocross and single speed riding, getting in some short
hikes, skiing, and having fun at home, I had a good progressive build until
February. I have some great training partners in the area. Then I got sick in
beginning of February with a lung infection and had a week and a half of down
time. You obviously canít control
it, but you hope if you get sick like that itís in November, not in the middle
of a really important training block.
Jeremiah pointed out, getting back to fitness after an illness is complicated
for a pro-level athlete.
Jeremiah Bishop: I
got sick at the transition from mega base to intervals, which is a key period
in my training build. Itís not like you go from sick to training at a
world-class level. Itís more like you go from being sick to training at a Cat 4
level, then 3, 2, 1 then you work in a rest week, then youíre at mid pro level,
international pro, then finally world cup level. So when I got sick it set me
back a lot, I was hustling to try to regain some form after that.
I really respond well to high volume training, and I havenít
been able to get it in. But I was working really hard to get back into fitness,
had good four-week block, and was back to where I was. And then I got sick
again after the Cannondale team camp.
You know, when youíre good youíre good. Last year when I was
going well in the spring like I was, you know the forms there. This year before
I got sick those sensations were there. And thatís coming back now. Iíve had
some good training, granted itís only been three weeks, but the sensations are
did you feel about your result in South Africa?
Jeremiah Bishop: I
wasnít too worried about South Africa. I planned on building toward Houfalize,
then really being hot for the double World Cup rounds after that. I took a B
race approach to South Africa, and then I got caught behind some early pile-ups
and was walking up the first climb. Then you just sprint, stop, sprint, stop
all day. I knew Iíd have to deal with it, but man. Before SA I knew I was going
to take a beating, I just didnít know I was going to have to deal with the
traffic and carnage.
MTBRacenews.com: What do you need to do to make the Olympic team?
Jeremiah Bishop: My
guess is that the selection is going to come down to discretionary picks. I
need to show than I am on. Getting 4th at the Olympic test event
last year was a fantastic result. I was riding in second for a long time in
that race, and my results last year showed good things. Mountain biking is
course specific, thatís something I think a lot of people forget, and the
Olympic course is good for me.
This year Iím on the Cannondale UCI Elite team and have
great support from Cannondale for the Olympic chase. Elite Team status is an
important designation from UCI, when Iím in Europe with the team I get some of
the best support in the world. I could go into a complete story about how the support
is excellent, the bus has a washing machine, a full kitchen on board, an
espresso machine, itís a rock star level show there, itís pretty exciting to be
a part of.
there any other races youíre focusing on this season?
Jeremiah Bishop: Tour de Burg [laughing]. I would like to do the
Transylvannia Epic and Pisgah Stage Race again.
MTBRacenews.com: Stage Racing seems
like your biggest passion when it comes to racing. What keeps you coming back
to those races?
Jeremiah Bishop: The
challenge. Theyíre probably one of the hardest bike races formats. And that
theyíre mountain bike races makes it even harder because you have to keep
things going and pick the right bike for each stage. Itís really a chance to
bring it all together.
In a stage race you donít know if youíre going to have a
bridge out, get hurt, whatever. Itís always a wildly different challenge, where
as a cross country race will be a cross country race. Iíve done close to 1000
cross county races, and most of them were pretty similar. In stage racing you
get a taste of where youíre riding, you canít manufacture a course. Youíre
hiking old passes that were used by wagon trains; itís the essence of the place
that youíre riding. Thereís something magical about it. Plus itís more riding!
I mean I flew all the way to South Africa for a 90-minute race at the first
World Cup this year.
Itís [Stage Racing] definitely taking off and growing fast,
especially in North America, so it will be interesting to see the evolution of
stage racing in the US, whether is will stay more vacation focused or move
towards professional fields with European teams. World Cups are the big show;
Iíd like to see stage-racing get to that level. The Cape Epic is close to that
MTBRacenews.com: Post-Olympic chase, what are you goals for this season?
Jeremiah Bishop: Post-Olympics the goal is to return to my roots, so some stage races and the
Virginia mountain bike trail, which is a really cool route, check it out on You
Tube. After this year Iím looking forward to including some international races
in the schedule too. Iíd really like to do the mountain biking Tour de Langkawi
and the Crocodile Trophy.
Iím like trying to do other stuff too. Recently I was an
instructor at USAC camp in Brevard, mentoring young riders. Iíve got a lot of
experience at this point, and I can see when a saddle is too low, or if
someoneís pedaling platform is off. Itís a cool way to contribute.
MTBRacenews.com: Last year you hosted your first Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg, VA. Can you give us
a recap of that event? Are there any changes planned for the 2012 edition?
Jeremiah Bishop: The
ride is in the middle of nowhere, stupid hard, with two nasty passes on dirt
roads. I like to show people a good time, and show them the backcountry. Last
year I thought maybe a couple of hundred people would come. The turnout blew me
away. This year we might have to turn people away. Thereís a 600-person limit,
so I encourage people to sign up sooner rather than later. Check it out on
Facebook or at http://www.alpineloopgranfondo.com/
In total we raised $8,000 for local bike lanes, prostate
cancer awareness and the local hospital last year. We also had a blast, drank
some beer, and ate some fired oreos.
This year there are two major improvements: bands and beer.
MTBRacenews.com: Youíve done all sorts of racing over the course of your career, from World Cups
to 100 Milers to Stage Racing. Other than the Olympics, whatís one race that
youíve never done that youíd love to line up at?
Jeremiah Bishop: I would love to do something that makes me nervous and
scares me, like going to Nepal to do the Yak Attack or riding the Crocodile
Trophy or Trans Andes, something like that. Iíve been saving some of these
things knowing that Iím going to dig into them when I get a chance. This year
is the Olympics though.
Iíd also like to ride the Ring of Fire in one day, thatís
another goal. Itís about a 70-mile loop with rocks like tombstones that George
Washington said would be his final place of entrenchment if he lost Yorktown.
The terrain is knarly. Several teams have tried to ride it in one day, leaving
at 4:30 in the morning. Nobodyís done it yet.
you have a favorite mid-ride snack for long training rides?
Jeremiah Bishop:Peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Conrad [Jeremiahís son] raided the Honey
Stinger waffle stash, if there are any left then Iíll use those. Conrad is
obsessed with those.
MTBRacenews.com: Right now, whatís one component on your bike that you
couldnít do without, regardless of who was sponsoring you?
Jeremiah Bishop: My
Lefty. How they engineered a thing to be 2lbs and stiffer than a 4 lb fork is
amazing, and itís so tunable. Did I mention itís incredibly light? The lefty
really defines how the bike rides, the thru axle stiffness is incredible. Iím on
a new prototype right now. I canít give any details, but my answer should give
you a sense of how it rides. Youíre seeing them on more and more bikes now, and
thereís an adapter to use them with standard steerer tubes.
Cannondale bikes are incredible. Theyíre one of the most
durable bikes in their class, but also one of the lightest bikes in their
class. And they make a bike for every course.
MTBRacenews.com: What song is at the top of your playlist these days?
Jeremiah Bishop: I train
with music sometimes. Pandora Indie Dance Electro is a great station. Itís
faster tempo stuff, but thereís a little bit of dance influence to it too.
Thereís a good energy to it that gets you in the zone when youíre training.